Looking for a hotel channel manager, but not sure how to select the right one? Then, you have landed on the right page. We will help you with your hotel channel manager buying process. However, before we get into it, let’s first understand what a channel manager is and how did it come into existence.
The evolution of channel manager
Hotel channel manager software came into existence as a growing number of travelers started using different channels, popularly known as OTAs, to book their hotel accommodations. Without a channel manager, hotels across the globe found it difficult to push rates and rooms on multiple OTAs in real-time. This led to a time-consuming manual effort as hotel staff used to update all the OTAs by logging into their extranets, which was error-prone. It also led to overbooking and double-booking issues that resulted in guest dissatisfaction. That’s how the global hospitality technology domain saw the rise of channel manager software in importance.
Why hoteliers in the United States need a channel manager software?
Look at these stats – According to recent findings, OTAs currently process 39% of the total US digital booking and the same is expected to touch 41% in 2020.
Considering the above-mentioned stats, the answer to this question is straight and simple – the share of hotel booking via OTA in the United States is rising year on year, and hoteliers need to leverage the power of a channel manager software to ensure a real-time and seamless distribution of their rooms and rates across all the connected OTAs.
Why independent hoteliers need a channel manager?
While big and branded hotels operating in the United States can spend a huge amount of marketing budget on different channels to create branding and online visibility to attract more guests, as an independent hotel owner, your limited budget might restrict you from doing so. However, you can certainly sign up with many OTAs (as just signing up does not involve any cost) to increase your online visibility. No doubt, this is a cost-effective process, but you need to have a channel manager in place to update those OTAs with real-time rates and availability to get more bookings.
How to select the right channel manager for your independent hotel?
Selecting the right hospitality tech solution can be a daunting task. To make this process easier for you, here are a few points you will have to bear in mind while buying a hotel channel manager. These are, of course, apart from your budget restrictions and your niche business requirements –
#1. Does the channel manager support all the OTAs you are connected to?
Today’s smart cloud-based channel management software supports almost all the leading OTAs. Some of them even claim that they sync with over 100 OTAs. But you need to take a close look at the list of OTAs on their website to find out if it connects to all the OTAs you work with.
For example – you are currently driving indirect booking via 10 OTAs. However, the channel manager only supports eight (8) of them. Even though the rest 2 OTAs are giving you bookings, the channel manager would not help you work with them. Then, what’s the point in adopting such a channel manager software with such restrictive features.
#2 How quickly does the channel manager connect with new OTAs?
As a hotelier, you need to look at new markets and guest segments to attract them via online channels. For this, you also need to connect with new OTAs that are popular in your target regions. Ask your hotel channel manager software vendor about how flexible and accommodating they are when it comes to connecting with new OTAs. If they can’t do this for you, you can neither promote your property nor can you attract guests from that specific geography. In simple words, it should help you grow and scale your online visibility and bookings. So, be very sure of this point while selecting one for your distribution needs.
#3 Does the channel manager software help you with a pooled inventory model?
The channel manager you select must operate on a pooled inventory model. This means it should help you to evenly distribute all your available inventory across all the OTAs including your website, too. If the channel manager empowers you with a pooled inventory model, you can be assured that your inventory gets reduced across all the channels when a booking is made on any of the channels. Similarly, in the case of a booking cancellation, when a room gets released, the channel manager updates all the channels.
#4 Look at the pricing model
You can adopt a channel manager software on two types of pricing model. When you work with them on a subscription-based pricing model, you need to pay them depending on your number of rooms and OTAs you use. You can choose to go ahead with a monthly or annual payment method.
You can also opt for a commission-based payment mode. In this, you need to pay a certain amount as commission to the channel manager vendor. This mainly depends on the number of reservations that enter the system.
And when we are talking about the cost, you also need to find out if it charges you extra when you raise a request for a new OTA integration.
#5 Does the hotel channel manager help you with reports/analytics?
You need to find out if the channel manager software can help you with reports and analytics. Because, as an owner, reports/statistics on sales, occupancy, and OTA performance are very important for you to optimize your channel mix. It would even help you make better pricing decisions based on demand and supply.
#6 Does the channel manager easily integrate with your existing Hotel PMS?
Don’t forget to ask this question to your channel manager software vendor. Hospitality industry experts would suggest you select a channel manager that can be integrated with your existing Hotel PMS. Do check if a seamless and two-way connect can be established between your PMS and the channel manager you are about to adopt.
Now, if you are happy with your existing PMS, you need to adopt a channel manager that gets integrated with the PMS. But here is the catch. If you are using a server-based PMS, there won’t be a two-way integration between the PMS and channel manager software that is on the cloud. Even if the integration happens, it would be a forced one and wouldn’t help you with real-time inventory distribution.
In this, it is advisable to adopt a new-age cloud Hotel PMS that easily gets integrated with the channel manager software.
For example – consider adopting Hotelogix cloud PMS, one of the trusted Hotel PMS among hoteliers in the United States that comes integrated with a host of channel manager solution. With Hotelogix PMS in place, you get to work with some of the leading channel manager solutions including, Vertical Booking, HotelRunner, SiteMinder, STAAH, RezGain, Maximojo, AxisRooms, RezNext, Busy Rooms, Omnibees and many more.
When integrated with smart cloud PMS, an efficient channel manager helps you remove inconsistent listing on room availability across all sales channels. It empowers you to have control over distribution strategy to sell more online to maximize profits while saving an enormous number of man-hours.
"The ultimate buyers guide for independent hotels – channel manager",